Featured Application: Automated SEM-EDS Materials Analysis: Getting the Big Picture

Authors & ContributorsRebekah Byrne

July 10, 2013

This function has a great deal of utility when performing materials analysis, whether the goal is product development, failure analysis, or reverse engineering.  Manual analysis certainly has its advantages when a quick, general overview of a sample is effective. However sometimes the end goal of an examination requires a bigger picture of the sample, and automated SEM-EDS analysis can provide a solution.

While taking thousands of measurements may be a tedious, time-consuming task for a microscopist, computers are efficient tools that can be programmed to perform numerous measurements over long periods of time.  Additionally, software can be utilized to pull out the information of interest that the computer collected, providing data such as particle counting, particle size distribution, elemental distribution, and statistical information. The Perception software, by Aspex Corporation © (utilized here at Gateway), can even provide an X-ray map of particle distribution to give a nice visual representation of elemental allocation over a sample.  Additionally, an analyst can use this software to establish elements of interest, size ranges, and “rules” to determine how features are categorized.  This allows the analyst to be very specific in what is analyzed during automated analysis.  This application can be employed on a substantial number of sample types, from elemental distribution in polymers, rubbers and adhesives to particle sizing and counting of powders and sprays.

So before you ask your analyst to collect thousands of datapoints manually, you may want to consider employing automated SEM-EDS analysis to attain both an unbiased, accurate representation of your sample, and to keep your scientists happy.